1.23.2014

My life is a musical (ish)

The other day I was sitting in my office when all of a sudden I felt inexplicably pumped up. Then I realized that "Eye of the Tiger" was being  blasted through the school wide P.A. system and my inspiration to go out and win a boxing match made complete sense. Unfortunately, the song was cut off almost as soon as I realized that it was being played. Which made me feel a bit let down because I had been excited about this surprising musical interlude in the middle of my day. Luckily, just a few short moments later the song "Don't Worry Be Happy" came on which immediately made me feel better. But this song was also discontinued after about 35 seconds and was quickly replaced with "All That She Wants" by Ace of Base. At this point, I felt mildly confused about this midday mash-up.

Allow me to lay out my thought process:

1) "Eye of the Tiger" makes the students feel like they can conquer the last week before break. (sensible)
2) "Don't Worry, Be Happy" allows them to know that everything will always turn out fine. (also sensible)
3) "All That She Wants" is about a psycho that is trying to get illegitimately knocked up -- which I feel is sending the wrong message to middle school students on a Friday afternoon.

I probably didn't need to explain all that.

So as I tried to work out the sense in all of this nonsense during the middle of my workday, I realized that I didn't actually care. Because whomever was DJ-ing began to play song after terrible song of music from the 1980's that I had never heard before in my life.

And if you can't sing along to the sing-along that is be played from the loud speaker of your school on a random afternoon for no apparent reason then what, may I ask, is the point?

A different musically driven event that recently happened to me here in Turkey was Camel Wrestling. I went to this:


I'm not sure if you can tell by the video, but essentially Camel Wrestling is an affair that closely resembles a crossbreed NASCAR race and music festival. With camels. It's probably the most redneck thing one can do in the Middle East. So obviously I loved it. 

About fifteen of my friends and I set up a picnic spot, grilled an exorbitant amount of meat and made ourselves right at home amidst the madness. We became best friends with our neighbors, one of which continuously tried to get me to drink his pickle juice that came out of a pre-manufactured pickle juice bag. I was all, "Stop trying to roofie me with your 'pickle juice'." But he didn't stop. Probably because he didn't speak English and therefore didn't realize I was accusing him of roofie-ing me. Then our neighbor-best-friends busted out their instruments and yelled at us through clarinets and drums for a couple (five) hours.

My friends trying to act natural.

Several old men attempted to teach me how to dance by hopping dramatically on one foot to a rhythm that I couldn't hear. At least I think they were trying to teach me something. I could have misread them. Everyone had been drinkin'. 

It was an interpretive type of dance.

Also, I don't really know how camel wrestling works. It looked to me that the camels kind of hugged each other around the neck (choked each other?) until one fell to it's front knees and then it was all over. One camel decided to run away. A lot of men chased after it. 

It was really hard to pay attention to the camels because all the musicians and dancers were fighting for the limelight.

There were about 700 "HoĊŸgeldiniz" mat sellers there. (Welcome mats) I think that all 700 sellers got into the camel ring at once at a certain point to yell about mats together for awhile. People love to yell in Turkey. It's very loud here.

And then at the end of the day, some random guy gave me his orange camel wrestling scarf -- which was a major bonus. I'm not exactly clear on the details of why he wanted me to have it, but he did reference me as the sister of my friend Mark and  then his friends took several pictures of the two of us standing together, me wearing his scarf, him looking stoically off into the distance.

Best day of my life.
American dollars, holla!







1.18.2014

I wore a swim cap at the pool last weekend and it was ok

My friends here told me that all the weird shit about Turkey would eventually become "normal" and that I would stop noticing it as much. So I guess that has begun. I went to a pool last weekend (it was a heated pool which kind of gave me the sensation of swimming in water warmed by urine but I knew that wasn't true so I tried to ignore that nagging part of my brain) and people are required to wear swim caps there. It took me a good 25 minutes of wearing the thing before I remembered that it's fucking weird to have to wear a swim cap at the pool.

But on the flip side, hair is really gross. Not as gross as teeth and nails, but it's definitely up there. I myself lose an extraordinary amount of hair everyday. I am always surprised that I'm not bald. I lose a good handful, if not more, seven days a week.

It's like tumbleweed from the wild wild west blowing across my home if I don't keep up with it.

I like winter swimming. It's fun. You know what else I like? A good symphony every once in awhile. Vivaldi -- now that guy knew what was up. I checked out a symphony last weekend and it was glorious. I love listening to the different layers of rhythm and harmonies allocated throughout an orchestra. I love seeing the bows of the string instruments coordinating perfectly. I love watching all the "first chair" solos -- you know that they feel bad ass when all the other folks in their section drop out and they are the last player playing. It reminds me of my good old days in band. (Even though I never had the glory of being first chair because I was a terrible student and got by entirely on natural ability which eventually led me to dropping out of band because I never had a huge amount of God-given musical talent.)

But anyway, what I like the BEST about watching an orchestra is the conductor. Every time I have ever been to a symphony the conductor has had the same kind of hair. The floppy kind. So when they start doing their syncopated dance routine, baton flailing towards this section then that section, their hair puts on a show of it's own. It's muppet like. A little creepy and a little endearing all at once.

See what I mean? They're all the same.

Side note: During the introductions it was announced that the wife of the conductor was pregnant -- and the crowd went batshit. There was a chorus of oohs and ahhs that far surpassed the volume of appreciation that was given to the music at the end of the performance. Seriously. Turks LOVE babies. Turkey is hands down the best place in the world for a baby.

I wish I were a baby in Turkey.

Lastly, on a completely unrelated note, I walked out of my classroom the other day and found this outside of my door. I'm not exactly sure why it's there (or what the hell it's purpose is)  but the kids love it.

First the children hoist each other up in the seat. Then they drop each other. I'm pretty convinced that these actions will result in bloodshed in the near future. It seems like a reasonable natural consequence.





1.12.2014

I have a point at the end of this

I was sharing my fondest memories of childhood with someone the other day and here was my list:

  • Playing "Chocolate Milk Factory" in the big mud puddle in the driveway. Everyday. Sometimes with my sister but mostly by myself.
  • Singing the soundtrack of Annie at top volume to lure the family's runaway cats back home. I was convinced that they would be drawn back home by the sweet sound of my voice. Turns out they were dead.
  • Playing with my imaginary friend, Juicy.
  • Rollerskating around the basement to old Beatles records wearing only one skate because the other belonged to my sister.
  • Taking all of my books outside and playing "Orphanage."
  • Positioning all of my stuffed animals around me and pretending that I was ET.

And as I continued on with this list I was just like, what the fuck. Statement, not question.
Following my brief mental breakdown I was led to wonder, "Did I have a weird childhood? Or was I just a weird kid?"

Because kids are weird and spooky all around. Even kids that are being raised in COMPLETELY normal households are still weird as hell.

Kids are always talking about spooky things like seeing invisible dead people sitting at the ends of their beds and shit. And it's like, I don't have time for that. You terrify me.

I mean, I can't criticize too harshly because I'm haunted. And I'm not really going to get into that because I don't want you to judge me. (I know that I've written a few things before this that might be judgment worthy but I don't care about that stuff.) Allow me to get to the point: When I was younger I thought that it was my lot in life to randomly find myself in a continuous circuit of haunted places. But then I got to thinkin' that maybe it's not always the PLACE that's haunted. Maybe a person can be haunted too. And maybe (probably) I am one of those persons.

Also, I'm pretty sure that haunted people suffer from a large number of nosebleeds. I'm not positive that there is a direct correlation between regularly bleeding from the face and seeing dead people, but it seems likely. 

Back to my childhood for a second. I think that my imaginary friend, Juicy, was a dead person. Also, I think a portion of my fear of octopi stems from a past life experience of being killed by one. Which in effect means that my prior self is haunting my current self.

And that's OK because whatever doesn't kill me (this time) will only make me stronger. Wow!! I had no idea that this post was going to end with such an empowering sentiment. Go me.



1.08.2014

Winter Wrap Up

It's January now, so I guess winter is over. There were a few days when it got pretty cold here in Izmir during December. Sometimes I had to button my jacket and wear a hat. But it's been in the 60's (Fahrenheit) for the last few weeks now so I feel like the worst has passed. I saw someone mowing the grass yesterday. Wussup Turkish Spring, it's nice of you to meet me.

When I think of winter passing in America, I visualize a soggy ground and salt smeared cars. In Izmir there is really no indication whatsoever that winter ever happened other than the coal stained street animals.

(Side note: street animals in Izmir are so nice but a lot of them are fugly. Especially when they are coal-dirty.)

I love you. Nevertheless, don't touch me with your syphilis eye.



But listen up, my friends, because I want you to know something. There are MANY other things that winter has left in her wake (for me) aside from just the dirty creatures that rub lovingly against my legs. I am ready to share with you a few choice examples --


I got to see lots of pretty mannies like this one:

I like your hat, sir

I am now the proud owner of a flourishing Turkish Chia Pet that appears to be wearing a Mexican wrestling mask:

Christmas gift

I also now own a small statue of Michael:

Christmas gift

Additionally, I've experienced more than one awkward moment that resulted in this face (and these are kind of my favorite moments):

Christmas gift that I thought was for me until I found out later that it wasn't actually for me


I think people like me.





1.04.2014

Christmas miracles


When I decided to move to Turkey I was fully aware that it was a Muslim country and therefore I had no expectations of Christmas-anything. So you cannot even begin to imagine my surprise when I found myself experiencing an overwhelming amount of holiday cheer followed by nothing short of a smorgasbord of Christmas delight as soon as the clock struck December. Part of this was due to the fact that the other expats that I have befriended in Izmir are awesome and organized all sorts of different holiday inspired events. But also, for some unknown reason, Izmir itself decided to try on some Christmas outfits -- apparently for the first time ever this year. Lucky me!

While I loved every Christmas-y thing that I came across here in Turkey, I have to admit that observing all of "the Christmas" was similar to seeing a small child promenading out of her mother's bedroom with red lipstick smeared across her face and size 10 pumps strapped on her tiny feet. Precious, but just a little bit not right.

Obviously I took some pics.


I think that this guy was a snowball with fur boots. He was yelling at people.
This lady with the pretty striped holiday lipstick appeared to be built into the table. I was not entirely sure of her purpose other than rotating at the waist so that she could keep her eyes locked on the people passing by - perhaps her role was to protect the "Christmas Artifacts" laid before her?? She communicated exclusively through gang signs.
These Christmas nightmares jumped around the crowd on pogo sticks. And why, may I ask, does the one with the green blouse have her head on backwards?


Hey Santa. I'm glad to see that you survived that fire.
Also, I noticed that your cell phone cover is a hand.
And that you are a woman. Word.


So I went to Bucharest, Romania to ring in the New Year with the hopes of getting a huge, traditional dose of Christmas laid on me through the holiday markets and incredible fanfare of lights. And I did!!! (Did you know that Bucharest uses all of the same lights as Paris? True story, absolutely gorgeous.) However, things were still really weird.


Homeless Santa

Christmas Clowns

Friendly Frosty -- that steals balloons from children. 
That's right - I saw it go down.

Rudolph may or may not have seen me stalking/taking photos of him for approximately two and a half hours...
however, I'm pretty sure it's against some law to take off your mask 
when you are still dressed up in a character costume. 
That really scars young children. 
An illusion has died. 


The placement of random, severed, plastic hands atop wares at small Christmas markets. 
I swear to GOD I didn't stage that. 


So overall my first Christmas on this side of  the Atlantic was a huge success. Usually I spend Christmas day by myself driving across America. (Depressing.) This year I got to wake up with displaced friends all around me AND live out a real life version of Tim Burton's Christmas! I didn't even know that I wanted to experience that -- but I did! 

Happy 2014 y'all!